Facebook has been trying all types of somewhat unusual tactics this year to pull in some more working capital. This mostly came after the already-dissected and critiqued initial public offering earlier this year. The level of users and their activity was not the issue at all, especially considering how the company had surpassed the one billion user mark just last month.
The problem was trying to figure out how to make all of it sustainable enough in the long-term, and this is where Facebook was making it more apparent that they knew that there was a lot that had to be worked out.
First there was the new “Facebook Gifts” option, which allowed users to purchase actual tangible gifts from a variety of participating retailers and send it to fellow friends. There is little information about just how successful this has all been so far, but it is certain that the newer idea outdoes the bizarre graphic “gifts” from a few years ago.
Looking past all of that, Facebook provided the option just a few weeks ago to let users all over the site pay just seven dollars to have their Facebook status “promoted” to the very top of every friend’s news feed. There was a lot of stirring that was caused about from this offering, with the obvious being that very few people would be willing to throw down seven dollars for just a Facebook post.
When you break it down a little bit more, it doesn’t look like Facebook really created this option with the normal user in mind at all, but rather smaller businesses who would be trying to fire off their product or service. The comparison that can be made in terms of social media is with that of Twitter’s promoted Tweets, which are often made very clear that they are paid for. We will keep the focus on the Facebook promotion test for now though.
The Issue That Must Be Considered
Though some might disagree with me, the problem with the Facebook promotion post – even for a small business – is that is creates an artificial environment in the social media world that most would like to believe is meant to be a more organic experience. Remember how upset people were getting when they saw advertisements beginning to show up in their news feed? How about the ads that would show up on the side of the page? No one wants them there, and anyone who believe that they actually work are quite nieve.
The “promoted post” is really just another version of any other ad, and Facebook should have realized that no one would want to see these artificially placed posts. If the user is to engage with a business, they want to do so on their own terms and not in a manner that is “fed” to them.
This might explain why almost no one is utilizing the new opportunity for their statuses to be seen. I have almost 650 friends on Facebook (they aren’t fake), and only one of them has actually utilized it. The funny this is that he was actually making fun of the promoted post, in the promoted post.
Facebook should know that this will not be a successful endeavor. Fan pages and business pages are enough for us to want to interact with, and if we wish to be a fan of something, then nothing is really there to stop us. For an individual to want to promote a post (and be serious about it) gives a sign of a somewhat desperate user wishing to be heard, but not in a natural way.